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Golan Heights Trek – Northern Israel

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Golan heights trek

 

Duration 6-7 days

Distance –  120 km

Difficulty – Medium

Start – Mt. Hermon

End – Taufik fountain (Ein Taufik)

Nearest City – Katsrin, Tiberia, Kiriat shmona

Transport – bus, Hitch-Hiking

Preferred season – March-Oct

 

Preface

 

The Golan heights is one of Israel’s least inhabited and wildest areas. It is a large volcanic plateu with numerous dormant volcanoes. It is located near the Syrian border. The trek starts at the highest mountain in Israel and travels south between local villages and vast farming areas and mostly nature.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golan_Heights

 

 

Planning

Access town

 

The town of Kiryat shmona is the nearest town to start at.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiryat_Shmona

Take a bus from Tel Aviv to this northernmost city in Israel. There are many buses daily, and even a night bus that arrives early in the morning to the sleepy city. Near the bus station there are numerous supermarkets to buy your food for the next couple of days, although, you can buy food along the way.

From Kiryat shmona, you will need to either take bus number 36 on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays or hitch your way to the start. In the northern part of Israel, the public transportation is lousy. In order to hitch, you will need to exit the main bus terminal and walk to the main road heading northbound. It might take a while, so patience.. another option is to take a taxi, but that might be rather expansive..

 

Map – the map to buy for this trail is map number 1 with the Golan trail mark on it. It is very easy to find in any hiking store in Israel.

 

Town of trail ending

Tiberias is an ancient city that is now very poplulated. It sits on the shores of lake Kineret.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiberias

Once you arrive here, find the bus station and you’ll find buses from there to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem in no time.

 

 

Day 1 – Hermon mountain to Odem forest 16 km

 

After arriving to the entrance booths at Hermon mountain, find the marked route at the eastern side of the road and start walking east at first, and then south. Descend at a shallow stream full with boulders. Cross the raod and continue your descent. Now, it becomes much steeper, walk slowly and carefully. You can observe the local fauna of the Hermon mountain in this path.

The main descend is until the next raod cross and from there on you walk on a much more flat ground. The route enters a small forest and climbs a little until another road that climbs south-west to the village of Nimrod. You can fill up water here.

The route doesn’t enter the village and continues in the same direction, now on a dirt road. After a while, you start descending to the Druze village of Masade. When you reach it, you can choose to enter and eat lunch at a local restaurant or continue with the route that goes around the village at the north part of it. You will sonn see the crater lake of Ram.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Ram

the way around the lake is magnificent and the route travels on the western and southern shores of the small lake. When the route turns south and starts leaving the lake, you will start to walk between apple orchards of the local druze settlers. Climb up between the orchards until you reach a road. When crossing the raod you enter Odem forest, a small remnant of a great forest that was once between the Golan and the west shore of Israel. The route travels inside the forest and then climbs up via orchards and fig trees to an old bunker and an observing point, high at Odem mountain. You can stay to sleep up here, or descend to the village beneath you – Odem village

 

Day 2 – Odem forest/village to Marom Golan – 16 k”m

 

Descend from Odem Mountain via a clear and wide dirt road for 1.5 k”m. You will reach a road that goes north to south where you will find a monument dedicated to the tanks corps of the Israeli army. Cross the road to the east and walk on the road until you reach a small mountain called “mount’ Hermonit”. The route goes around this small mountain and it will be on your right side the whole time while you walk between trees and cows. After another 1.5 k”m you will reach another monument with amazing views to the “valley of the Bacha”, a valley with orchards and springs.

The route then descends to the south into the valley and turns south-west between the orchards in a volcanic landscape (black basalt rock) for almost 3 k”m until another road cross. Cross the road and close the cow-gate after you. The route continues in the same direction and after 1 k”m you reach the ruins od the village of Bab-el-Hawa. You can choose to stay the night here, or continue to Marom Golan, a village 2 k”m off the raod next to the ruins.

 

Day 3 – Marom Golan to Aloney Habashan (village) – 18 k”m

 

If you choose to stay From Marom Golan, return to the road from yesterday. The route goes west of the water reservoir and then turns east and climbs for about 20 minutes to the summit of Bental Mountain. On the top, the is a great panoramic view of the whole area – in the north, mount Hermon, on the south you can see all the dormant volcanoes and to the east you can see the Kineret lake. You can also stop here for coffee at the “coffee anan” which is a coffee shop at the top of the hill. You can also fill up water here.

Start your descend from the mountain on the main road that reaches the mountaing. Be careful of the cars traveling on it. The route breaks from the raod and for another 3 k”m you will walk between orchards and basalt boulders until another road that goes east to west. You can fill up again here, next to Ein-Zivan village and even get some food.

The route continues east for 2.5 k”m and during spring, this place is full of spring blossoming and is a heaven to walk through. Don’t wander around off the route since there are numerous mine fields around it, you will reach another road. Cross it and start to climb to mountain “Bni-Rasan”, a small rising with numerous wind turbines the sound of them will let you know you arrived to the top. Again, take a view to the west and when you finish relaxing, descend to the road beneath you. Here you can choose to hitch 4 k”m down the road to the village of “Aloney Habashan” or walk there via the raod and then via the forest above it (6 k”m). This day ends at the fountain in the entrance of the village for the outdoor people or inside the village at a zimmer.

 

 

Day 4 – Aloney Habashan to Daliot camp ground – 23 k”m

 

Today, we start to see a new kind of topography. The high mountains at the north are no long and instead, we will see many streams and fountains.

Exit Aloney Habashan southbound and walk on the road for 10 minutes until the route turns east and after 10 more nimutes, it enters a dirt road to the south. Walk in green, lush herd area for 30 minutes until you cross a road and continue to the west into “Hushnia” nature reserve where you can see the amazing Iris flower between late February to March. The hike in the reserve lasts about 30 minutes and you leave to reserve to the south.

The route travels for 3 k”m between another herding area. You will encounter numerous fountains along the route. They are called “Pecham” fountains. Feel free to swim in them and even fill up water (needs disinfection). Later on the route,  you reach the ruins of Faradge. This is a deserted Syrian village between figs and grapefruits. The route then turn west and crosses another road and soon enter “Um-El Dannir”, another ruined village with a big fountain next to it. If you are tired, you can spend the night here. If you are still up to the walk, continue southbound on the route for 3 k”m. you will see the village of “Yonata” to the west and lots and lots of cattle herding the planes around you.

The route turns west again and adter 1.5 k”m you reach “Rugum El-Hiri”, an ancient grave site. You can fing info here:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rujm_el-Hiri

 

you can take the time and look around. Be aware that there is another 45 minute walk to the camping site! After you feel the energy in this exciting place, continue on the route westbound for 45 minutes, cross the road and reach the camp ground of “Daliot”. You will find water here and picnic tables. If you reach the camp ground early enough, leave your bags here and walk on a red route north from the camp ground to see Daliot stream. (25 minutes one way).

 

Day 5 – Daliot campground to road 789 – 19 Km

 

Today we will get to the southern part of the trail. Start walking south from Daliot campground and after a while the route circles a water reservoir and then enters a stream. At first, the stream is shallow and after 20 more minutes of walking, it becomes steeper. This is Samach stream, a small river that descends from the Golan heights to the lake of Galilee, the Kineret lake. Sometimes along the route, there are small streams that you can enter and swim in.

The river turns south and after 2 km, you can climb uphill from the main route on a blue trail marking toward an ancient synagogue – Um El Canatir:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umm_el_Kanatir

 

You can take a tour in this amazing site for a while and then return to the main route and continue downhill via a dirt road to the EL-Al stream, another stream that descends to the Kineret lake. When you reach the stream, hop in to cool yourself because now the route climbs up the southern part of the stream for about 45 to 60 minutes until you cross the road and arrive to a restaurant overlooking the Kinerert and the Golan heights. You can choose to eat here and spend the night at the campground next to the restaurant, or cook outside and feel up in the restaurant.

 

Day 6 – road 789 to the gate of “Meytzar River reserve” – 19 k”m

 

Continue from the campground on the route westbound descending a shallow stream at first and then climbing up to a dirt road leading up to one of the best view points along the trek. You will see much of the Kineret lake when the route turns south and continue in this direction for about 30 minutes. When you reach the ruins of Bne-Yehuda, the route turns east and climbs up the hill to the plateau of the Golan heights and the orchards of the village – Givaat Yoav. The route does not enter the village but rather continues around it and to the west of it and then proceeding south in an old mine field – do not leave the marked route!!

After a while, the route descends into another stream, and then it climbs up, at first in the stream and then on the road that is on the south part of the stream. The road climbs up and ends in an amphitheatre. You need to feel up water here because there are no water for the next 6 k”m and for the night. Cross the road and enter the nature reserve of “Meytzar River”. This reserve has many natural beauties and you will walk in it for 6 k”m.

The route descend into the river (it has no water except for numerous days every year). You might see gazelles and boars wandering around if you’re lucky. Afer 4 k”m in the river, the route climbs up from the reserve. You can stay to sleep after you pass the gate of the reserve (do not stay in the reserve overnight. It is illegal). If you have strength to continue for 3 more k”m, you can sleep and feel up water next to the village of Mavo-Hama which means – “where the sun first appears” since it is located in an amazing scenery.

 

Day 7 – Maytzar river resrve to Ein Taufik – 8 k”m

 

This day is short but rewarding. Continue from the gate of the reserve on the plateau for 3 k”m until the village of Mavo-Hama. The route does not enter the village, it continues around it and to the south. You will reach a great view point to the Kineret lake and the continue south for 3 km with this amazing view. You will start a shallow descent and reach 2 small fountains, the last is Ein Taufik. You deserve to relax here, it’s the ending point of 120 k”m!

To leave here, you need to hitch yourself to Tiberius. Many people visit Ein Taufik and this is a good option. Another option is to descend to the road on the shore of the Kineret for another 4 k”m and then take a bus. If you choose to descend, continue west from Ein Taufik on a dirt road that continues downhill all the way to the road next to Haon kibutz.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.trekkinginisrael.com/golan-heights/